Neckerchiefs & Remembrance

After my Mum and my neighbour’s comments asking why the girls weren’t in uniform when they were, this year we wondered about getting unit neckerchiefs. Another unit in our area had got some for their whole unit and that leader passed on the email address of her contact so we could get something similar.

I e-mailed Steph from One Stop Scouting and within two days she had sent me a set of swatches and idea of how long our order would take. I then took the swatch samples and held a bit of a ‘Pow-wow’ (yes I know that’s a Brownie thing!) with our Guides. I suggested that the main necker colour should be some shade of blue as that’s the colour associated most with Guides (Red for Rainbows, Yellow for Brownies, Blue for Guides, Turquoise for Senior Section), but that they could pick any colour they liked for the border. With 16 Guides we worried that it would be a nightmare to get consensus, but they very quickly as a whole group chose two colour options to vote on for the border and two for the main colour. I always say on things like this they can vote more than once, so we can get an idea of majority that will be happy with what is decided on. They decided on Marine Blue neckers with a Grape border.

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The girls seemed to forget about the order until a few weeks later when they began to ask what had happened with the neckers and when they would arrive. In the end they came about a week before Remembrance Sunday but as we didn’t want them get lost or forgotten between our meeting day and Sunday we decided just to wait til the Sunday to give the girls their neckers. And they seemed to like them. They most certainly looked smart with them on, and we quickly realised their benefits in a crowd.

They also wore them to Gang Show (a night of the year that fills me with a lot of anxiety and stress) as crowds of kids and teens all looking the same.From years of joint trips to help with leader:child ratios now two of our Guide units and the Senior Section have the same meeting point, and the two Guide units have grown a fair bit in the last year. So it was wonderful to be able to immediately recognise who was one of ‘mine’ at a glance due to that purple (sorry, grape) border.

The Senior Section also have got unit neckers, which some of the girls are pleased with, and others are not impressed with. They chose grey neckers with a turquoise border to match the current uniform. It did make them look smart, and several people commented to me how well turned out the girls were looking this year and well…noticed that the girls were in attendance. Previous years some people haven’t even realised that there were members of Girlguiding in attendance at the War Memorial.

Unforunately I can’t share the photo I got of all the Brownies, Guides and Senior Section that I snapped after the church’s youth service for remembrance with their flags, but a photographer for the local heritage trust made a video of the War Memorial Service.

You can get the neckerchiefs in two sizes (Adult and Youth), and you will definitely need the Adult size for Senior Section. I think they were £4.95 each, and your minimum order is 25 (this can include both sizes).

We hope in future to have a deposit scheme where Guides can pay £5 deposit for a necker, then at the end of their time at Guides they can either keep it, or give it back and if it’s still in decent condition we will give them their £5 back.

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Remembrance Sunday woes…

Cenotaph

(Thank you to a local resident who has given me permission to use the photo above)

Remembrance Sunday.

An important day, and especially poignant this year as it marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1.

I was brought up with it instilled to me by my Guiders that it was important for us all to represent in our uniforms on Remembrance Sunday. The churches the units I was a member of always had reserved seating for all the youth organisations and made a big deal about us  being there. Often older members of the community who would be there would come up to us and say how nice it was to see us there, and comment on our uniforms.

When I returned to Guiding three years ago, I was surprised to see how little Girlguiding was represented at our local Remembrance events. The second year I was there, we managed to get the Guides to have their flags in the colour party. I was so angry when I saw the church newsletter commenting on how wonderful it was to see the Boys Brigade and Scouts in attendance – no mention of the Guides and Brownies!

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not one to stay silent. I was not going to have the girls feel unvalued or unequal to the boys’ organisations (though granted, Scouts aren’t an all boy organisation, which I personally think is a real shame). So the next year, we had our ‘colours’ at the local community war memorial service AND the church one (same as the Scouts and Boys Brigade) and the Girlguiding and Scouts were both asked to do readings – not just the boys anymore! We still didn’t have seats in the church again though.

However, I did notice that none of the youth organisations in our area were laying poppy wreaths which I thought strange. I was on the case like as soon as the service was over last year.

This year, I got on the ball in August! I spoke to our Division Commissioner about getting our new Division Banner out for the War Memorial service and carried by our Senior Section. I asked if Girlguiding could lay a poppy wreath (and mentioned it to the Boys Brigade and Scouts too). And I asked the church in advance if we were to do a reading so I could make sure we had a girl comfortable with being in a church and public speaking. And I asked if we could try and ensure we were seated all of Girlguiding sections together, making the point this was one of the few times that the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides were all together – and that it helped the younger ones to see older ones to make them more comfortable with moving up to the next section if our faces become familiar.

All was good.

And then three out of six leaders were unavailable. Which meant that I had to be both the Guide and Senior Section unit leader for the morning!

Our war memorial service went well. One of my flag bearers didn’t appear til the last second (not ideal) but we got there. Luckily I was there as the Anchor Boys (the Rainbow equivalent of the Boys Brigade) were looking lost as we paraded out of the church graveyard across the the memorial behind the colour party (which all their leaders were in). The poor wee lad at the front looked in panic, and I was able to subtley tell him to keep going to make a line of Anchor Boys behind the colour party, and at the end to follow the colour party and promise that the Girl Guides would follow on behind them!

However, the youth service after was a different story. Our Banner carrier was the only other leader present (as she is also a Ranger) and we had to give the banner back to our Division Commissioner because she couldn’t attend the youth service. There’s the scramble for seats before they all get taken by the Scouts. I had told the two Guides carrying the unit flag before the War Memorial service that they needed to collect their flag on the way back from the hall.

In the rush – I took the banner from our Rangers and promised to get their bags from the hall as I began putting the banner away with our Division Commissioner so she could leave to get to her next engagement. Our Ranger who is also a Guide leader took the Guides into the church to get seats – making sure we had one on the aisle for our Ranger doing the reading. However, 3 out of 4 of the youth service colour party forgot they were meant to be in the colour party and went with her! Only when I finally got in the church with the bags having also been fielding Rainbows and Brownies and their leaders to tell them to find seats with the Guides  and Rangers…I sat down just as the service was about to start, with the Rainbows as the seats with the Guides and Senior Section were all taken. Then one of the Guides tapped our Ranger/Guide Leader on the shoulder and said ‘I think I’m supposed to be over there‘. Fast chinese whispers of ‘Laurie, Laurie….the colour party isn’t there’. I looked round to see the two girls who had been at our Friday rehearsal and spoken to before and made sure the flag was already….and asked them from across the pews ‘Where’s the flag?’ to which they replied “we don’t know” as the minister walked in to start the service.

Then as the colour party went past I suddenly noticed our Guide carrying the ‘Queen’s flag’ was alone without her Colour guard.

Afterwards I said we all just had to laugh about it. I felt so bad for the parents and the girls. Next year, hopefully all our leaders will be there and we can have a fast plan of action so there’s not two of us running like headless chickens not noticing that we have Guides with us that should be in another place!

The other point from the day was an interesting one. My Mum and our next door neighbour (who nursed troops in India during World War 2) came down to the War Memorial Service to pay their respects and see me! Later that night, my Mum asked me ‘Why were none of the girls wearing Guide uniform? They looked awful compared to the Scouts!’

I explained every one of them was wearing uniform.

She had not realised that there was no ‘bottom half’ to the uniform but the main issue was that several of the girls have the stripey t shirt – she didn’t recognise it as Guide uniform. The fact they were all wearing different items of clothing – gilets, t-shirts, hoodies, zip up jumpers…was also confusing.

‘Maybe that’s why they think you weren’t there’ she said (noting my rant about the year the Guides got no acknowledgment for having been there).

Speaking to our Unit Leader, she recalled a visit we had from the church elders one year when they made the statement ‘So Guides isn’t a uniformed organisation anymore then?‘ She looked around the room and ALL the girls were wearing ‘uniform’.

It made me realise that people expect Guides to be bright blue, and the fact that the Guide uniform doesn’t have the Guide Trefoil logo on the tops anymore is a problem. And having noticed some chat on the Girlguiding facebook group about one person’s town not letting the Guides parade because ‘it’s only for uniformed organisations’ has made me realise that the uniform change is good!

Although the Senior Section polo shirts are recognisable, I don’t think their hoodies are (especially as there are two different colours – neither of which are aqua!). With that thought in mind, we are now speaking about getting unit neckers to hopefully have for events so that the girls are more obviously part of Girlguiding.

It’s funny how someone from outside of Girlguiding can often give you a new perspective on something that you don’t see because you’re ‘in it’.

Anyway, I was proud of all the girls who made the effort to attend!

Sparklers and Poppies…

As this week was Guy Fawkes Night, we had Sparklers at Senior Section. There is a Guide unit that meets at the same time as us, and they were also doing sparklers (thankfully not in the same place – that could have been carnage!)

Already I’m seeing the girls looking more exhausted and struggling to make meetings. The Scottish education system has changed a lot (it seems to change radically every ten years) and the current changes are just awful. It means the pupils have to fit much more in less time – so they get so much homework. I feel so bad for them, and angry that our government expects schools to cover so much, which means young people end up missing out in reality. And poor teachers get stressed.

So this week we kept it simple. We had sparklers in the end but most of the meeting was spent with the girls updating their Look Wider folders and our unit scrapbook, doing some decoupage, eating popcorn and then ending with sparklers.

Thankfully Jenny had checked the deal on the Girlguiding policy on sparklers to discover the girls had to wear gloves, and I have several pairs the girls who had forgotten to bring some could borrow.

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I’m also super grateful to the three Rangers who are making the effort to join in with the memorial services in our area for Remembrance Sunday. This year Girlguiding will be laying a poppy wreath at our village’s cenotaph, and we’ll also have our Division banner as part of the War Memorial Colour Party (we don’t really parade, unless you count walking from the church hall and standing at the cenotaph which is essentially the border of the church graveyard – it takes all of 30 seconds). All the armed forces, community organisations, schools and public sector services are invited to attend and lay poppy wreaths. This year will be the first time the uniformed youth organisations in the area will do it too. Our Guides were excited when we told them, only for them to go home with letters and say they couldn’t come or wouldn’t be coming.

And then you’ve got girls who are having sleepovers the night before and making the effort to be there anyway – even if it means leaving fun things early or bringing a friend with them.

Trying organise who is doing what is stressful, as everyone involved is a volunteer – the organisers of the youth church service who decide on seating, the people who organise the community service at the war memorial. And of course you’re dealing with teenagers who (generally) haven’t mastered the concept of knowing their own diary yet! 🙂

For some reason I decided that we would carry on our tradition of gathering leaders from our different units to go to a local cake cafe afterwards that we started last year too. So there’s been that to organise as well (what was I thinking? Oh yeah, building friendship amongst the unit teams!).

Despite all of the stress, I know it  will be worth it. It means a lot to people in the community, I believe it’s an important tradition to teach about and ensure it is kept for the right reasons (lest we forget), and that it is one of the few times that the different sections of local Guiding and Scouting come together.

I’m hoping for a nice pot of peppermint tea and some yummy cheesecake as my reward at the end of it – alongside some of my fellow leaders.

Harriet’s Army, Scouts and Guides in World War One

The other week, I was on a bus when I got the following message from a friend of mine (whose daughter happens to be a Brownie)

“Watch CBBC just now – Harriet’s Army about girl guides in WW1!”

It’s not often one of your adult friends tells you (a woman in her 30s) to watch a children’s TV programme, but having been so  inspired by reading a fantastic book last summer called How the Girl Guides Won The War by Janie HamptonI was intrigued.

A little research into the History of Guiding...

A little research into the History of Guiding…

A few days later, I was on BBC iPlayer watching the 3 part drama about Harriet and her friends.

In the story Harriet is kicked out of the Girl Guides for fighting, just before the war breaks out and the Scouts and Guides volunteer themselves to help with the war effort at home. It was great to see this part of history being told, as this is what really happened.

I really do recommend checking it out while it’s still on iPlayer, and there’s a special Harriet’s Army page on the CBBC website just now. There are also some great activities in the Summer 2014 edition of Girlguiding magazine to help your Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section understand the sorts of things Guides and Scouts experienced during the World Wars.

There are also a few Remembrance Day badges you can order for folks in your unit representing Girlguiding at Remembrance Sunday services on BadgeFreaks. I don’t know if there’ll be any kind of official badge from Girlguiding (if you know of one, please do leave details in the comments!)

A year of Guides in pictures…

So we got up to a lot in Guides this year on a very tight budget after they really hiked up the price of Census in our area! There are many more photos the girls have in their scrapbooks but here’s a taste of this last year in Guides..

Learning about the History of The Girl Guides…

Guide magazine

 

With the new promise being introduced part way through this past term, we decided to do the ‘Traditions’ badge as a unit so we could help the girls understand and learn about the history of Guiding.

The badge has a whole ton of options, so we did a few things that we as leaders organised – which included visiting another unit close to us to learn about marching and flags. Now the girls often ask if we can do the horseshoe marching! It’s funny how you think that things that are ‘old fashioned’ will have no relevance or be of no interest to girls in this modern age of phones, computers and the rest – and be proven so wrong when you bother to teach them at the risk of seeming ‘uncool’.

We were also really blessed by a woman who runs the Girlguiding Edinburgh archives. I’d been in touch with her to see if we could visit, and it turns out we couldn’t. Noticing she lived not too far away from me I asked if perhaps there was an alternative. She generously took the time to look out a box of old handbooks and scrapbooks, many copies of ‘The Guide’ from the 1930s and 40s, and six uniforms from a century of Girlguiding.

We set up a stations for the girls to look all the scrapbooks and magazines, brought down my own guide camp blanket (which has most of my Brownie and Guide badges on it). One of the girls brought her Mum’s old badges and Brownie and Guide handbooks too. The girls also got to try on the different uniforms and we took pictures for their own scrapbooks. We had information stations about how Girl Guides started and how they kept going through the first and second world wars – even when in some places Girlguiding was banned by the Nazi regime.

On the other weeks the girls chose clauses to do in their patrols, and we finished off by having a History of Guiding quiz with a bit of competition between the patrols.

It was a great experience and showed the girls how much Guiding has changed with the times. A month later, we were representing Girlguiding at our local Remembrance Sunday services, and the girls seemed  to understand a little more why it is that Guides and Scouts are part of it. One of the girls who was part of the colour party got up early to give herself a wee manicure…trefoil style!

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